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Angel Portillo

Why Today Matters

Why Today Matters is written by Berryville resident Angel Portillo. Portillo is an undergrad at University of Arkansas, seeking his bachelor's degree in History. His column appears in the Tuesday Midweek edition of Carroll County News. He can be reached at aporae@gmail.com.

Opinion

July 17: A hotly contested win for Brazil --and for soccer

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Every four years a nation in the world receives the privilege of hosting the biggest sporting event on the planet.

This sporting event is known as the FIFA Soccer World Cup. In the 1994 edition, the United States would be the one to host this grandiose competition.

People from all around the world came to cheer for their favorite team in the tournament, which was made up of 24 teams coming from every corner of the world.

This athletic event began on June 17, 1994, and the final match would be played on July 17, 1994, between Brazil and Italy.

First of all, soccer was not a popular sport in the United States prior to this tournament. The main reason this event was brought here in 1994 was to promote this great sport.

Since the World Cup was at home, the U.S. National Soccer Team gave its best World Cup performance up to that point.

There were six groups of four teams. The U.S. was in Group A, alongside Romania, Switzerland, and Colombia. The inauguration game didn't start off so well, but still the U.S. managed to tie 1-1 against Switzerland. In the second game, they defeated Colombia 2-1, and this earned them the ticket to the next round.

In the quarterfinals, the U.S. team unfortunately would lose against the would-be champion Brazil. However, this U.S. soccer team played differently: more efficiently and more convincingly. They lost, but they gave an entertaining and satisfying performance throughout the entire competition.

All good things come to an end, and so on July 17, 1994, it was time for this tournament to conclude. The last match, Brazil against Italy, would be the first World Cup Final to go to the penalty shootouts after ending up tied 0-0. Brazil ended up taking its fourth title, at the time becoming the only nation to do so.

So how big was the impact that the World Cup left on the U.S. in 1994?

Pretty big.

Two years later, Major League Soccer would be established. Many soccer academies were opened nationwide, which specialize in preparing referees and soccer players for this soccer league.

Furthermore, communities around the country (like Berryville) have also established teen and adult soccer organizations and youth soccer leagues.

Basically, after the World Cup was hosted in our country, soccer became widely recognized.

Let's be honest, it's still not as popular as football, baseball, or basketball, but it is slowly getting there.

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Why Today Matters is written by Berryville resident Angel Portillo. Portillo is an undergrad at University of Arkansas, seeking his bachelor's degree in History. His column appears on Tuesdays.

aporae@gmail.com